The Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) has been dragged to court for allegedly breaching a N$14-million contract awarded to a local close corporation for the supply of electronic membership cards.
According to court documents seen by The Namibian, Swapo's youth wing allegedly failed to pay over N$14 million to the close corporation True Media Trading CC, which has supplied and installed an integrated membership system at various Swapo offices.
The electronic membership card deal, initially entered into in 2016, tied Swapo's youth league, its women's council and its elders' council to an agreement worth N$7,7 million with True Media Trading CC, which is owned by northern-based musician-turned-businessman Inotila Kambidhi.
The same contract was amended in 2018 and its value escalated to about N$14 million.
Former SPYL secretary for information and now Erongo governor Neville Andre was at the time accused of signing off the deal without following the proper procedures.
In 2017 The Namibian reported that some former youth league leaders questioned the deal after claims that it was irregularly awarded.
According to the terms, True Media Trading was to supply more than one million electronic membership cards to Swapo's three wings: 300 000 cards for SPYL, 150 000 for the pioneers' movement, 400 000 for the women's council and 200 000 for the elders' council.
It was also contracted to supply the SPYL with all hardware and accessories, including laptops for the integrated membership system to operate.
It was further stated that True Media would be the SPYL's sole provider of "membership cards, system and printing equipment".
However, after having completed and launched the system in November 2018, the close corporation now claims in court documents that the SPYL has refused to pay it N$14 million for the work done.
It further claims that Swapo's youth wing has grossly breached the terms of their agreement by "failing to follow the project plan" and engaging other suppliers for cards and printing equipment.
Despite having the electronic membership card system in place, the SPYL still uses "paper cards instead of PVC cards provided by True Media Trading", the company claims.
Kambidhi yesterday said he is disappointed that the SPYL refuses to pay him what they agreed on after having spent more than N$3,8 million to implement the project.
"This is money they provided a guarantee for, to make matters worse. We have already handed over laptops and other equipment to them, and the system has been in operation. We understand some of the things are even lost, some are being used for personal purposes, and they cannot even account for where some of the equipment is," he said.
He said the SPYL has also neglected the terms of their contract and "they are doing everything outside of the project's scope in terms of how to consult or how to change things. They are dictating the whole process".
"They have not paid us a single cent after spending close to N$3,8 million, and all those years I am accumulating costs," he said.
"The level of damage caused [...] is beyond measure and triggered a storm of destruction. It took my dignity, my trust and my friends and our money," he said.
However, SPYL secretary Ephraim Nekongo yesterday said the youth wing does not owe money to Kambidhi's close corporation.
He said the agreement between the two parties does not involve any terms stipulating that the SPYL had to pay True Media Trading for the membership card system.
He said Kambidhi's close corporation only wanted to make money from Swapo's already existing system of issuing membership cards.
"They want to be paid by who? Who told them they are going to be paid? Those people approached the youth league, because they wanted to make money. We have been issuing our membership cards before. We didn't ask them to come and supply their cards. In their contract, we never had an obligation to make any payment to them. Never! It was never our deal.
"Did they issue any invoice to Swapo that was never paid? They can't issue any invoice to us, because we were never in any contractual obligation to pay them," Nekongo said.
He was, however, surprised that Kambidhi decided to sue the SPYL for "failing to do what they needed to do to make their money".
"This is news to me that we are being taken to court. If that thing is before court, then I will wait for the process to conclude. Maybe we are notified, but as far as I am aware, I don't have any issues with them," he said.